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Sept. 22: Columbia City

Friday, February 15, 2019

Timing Is Everything

My winter get-away to Southern California coincided perfectly with Seattle’s Snowmageddon.  I eased out-of-town the day before the snows came and arrived in California the day after major rain storms soaked Los Angeles. Rain wiped away the smog  revealing crisp outlines of the Hollywood Hills against a bright blue sky.  I didn’t know how many opportunities I would have to sketch so I took a 6” X 4” pocket sketchbook. It’s a smaller size than I normally use but was handy and discreet in an unfamiliar setting.

Because I was staying within walking distance of Paramount Studios, I decided to go on a studio tour.  Early getting a ticket, I trekked down Melrose Avenue to a coffee shop.  Passing  time with coffee while sketching,  I imagined  the man in the window seat was writing an Oscar- winning screen play and the shiny red Porsche parked by the curb belonged to me.
Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

A recent graduate with a BFA in Script Writing guided the 8 person tour.  Called a Page, it’s an entry-level position at Paramount Studios.  The tour guide had ambitious plans for her future in the entertainment industry.  In the mean time, her entertaining tour was a multi-media experience. She used an iPad to reference Paramount movies from the past as we explored the studio lot.  She also took pictures of us in front of  iconic movie props so we didn’t have to do selfies. The New York apartment scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window movie was completely constructed in a Paramount Studio sound stage.  Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart were never in New York, it was pure Hollywood magic! 

Paramount Studios

Rear Window with Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart
After the tour, I had lunch at Astro Burger where I sketched in their outdoor courtyard. The billboards and signs sent strong messages to the cars careening along Melrose Avenue.

Inside the Astro Burger on Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
My theme of stars continued at LACMA,  the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, only this time they were art stars.  Robert Rauschenberg: The 1/4 Mile, is a massive work on display  in the Broad Pavilion.  Assembled with found materials over a period of 17 years, the work is almost 1/4 mile in length.  Another exhibition, Outliers and American Vanguard Art, is a stunning collection of over 250 works by trained and untrained artists. As an Urban Sketcher, it was fascinating to see drawings by self-taught artists hanging next to drawings by art super-stars. The drawings of self-taught master Martin Ramirez impressed me with their scale and content.

Tony Smith sculpture Smoke inside the Ahmanson Building, LACMA
Popular Larchmont Village has a pedestrian-friendly main street, unusual in  the strip mall car culture of Los Angeles and perfect for sketching.  I couldn’t find any empty public benches so I ate too much for the sake of the sketch.  No rationalization necessary, we need to support establishments that let us use their spaces. I couldn’t help but notice what looked like an Urban Sketch on all the recycle bins in the village.  Now that’s a good idea!

Rooflines and Ice Creams in Larchmont Village, Los Angeles

Recycle Bins in Larchmont Village


  1. Thanks for taking us along on your star-studded Hollywood vaca! I sure envy the timing of your getaway -- wish I'd planned to be elsewhere last week, too!

  2. My interest was piqued when you mentioned Paramount Studios. I was studying that neighborhood on Google Maps and Airbnb the past two weeks because I was seriously thinking of heading down for the Freize Art Fair which was held at Paramount Feb 14- 16. I decided not to go, but kind of wish I had. You captured interesting highlights of the neighborhood. Since you go there regularly, have you heard of the LA Angel walks? - self guided tours of different neighborhoods in LA.